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Gunman captured after shooting outside US embassy in Lebanon

AUKAR, Lebanon (AP) — A gunman who attacked the U.S. embassy near Beirut was shot and captured by Lebanese soldiers after a shootout Wednesday morning that wounded an embassy security guard, the military said. and embassy officials.

The attack took place as tensions grew in the small Mediterranean country, where months of fighting between Hezbollah militants and Israeli troops have displaced thousands of people along the border, after years of political stalemate and economic hardship.

Local media reported that there was a shootout involving at least one attacker that lasted almost half an hour.

Joe Abdo, who works at a gas station near the complex, said he heard “between 15 and 20 gunshots” while working that morning. “We ran up here to see what was happening and suddenly the army stopped us from going up,” he told The Associated Press.

No motive was immediately clear, but Lebanese media published photographs that appear to show a bloodied attacker wearing a black vest with the words “Islamic State” written in Arabic and the English initials “I” and “S.”

A Lebanese security official and two judicial officials familiar with the case said the gunman appeared to be a lone attacker. They identified him as a resident of the eastern Lebanese border town of Majdal Anjar, near Syria. Previously, the Lebanese army identified the suspect as a Syrian national.

They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.

The military raided Majdal Anjar and nearby Suweiri, where they detained relatives of the suspect, but found no other gunmen or evidence of a possible extremist cell, the officials added.

The suspect was shot in the stomach and leg before being captured and taken to Beirut’s military hospital, according to officials.

A U.S. Embassy spokesperson said in a statement that an embassy security guard was injured in the attack.

“With regard to his privacy we cannot say more, but we wish him a full recovery,” said the spokesperson, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

A statement from the office of Lebanese interim Prime Minister Najib Mikati said that following meetings with the defense minister and the army commander, he was informed that the situation was now stable and that serious investigations were underway.

The Lebanese army said it deployed troops around the embassy and its surroundings.

In 1983, a deadly bomb attack on the US embassy in Beirut killed 63 people. U.S. officials blame the attack on Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

After that attack, the embassy was moved from the center of Beirut to the Christian suburb of Aukar, north of the capital. Another bomb attack hit the new location on September 20, 1984.

In September 2023, Lebanese security forces detained a Lebanese man who opened fire from the US embassy. There were no victims in that attack.

In October 2023, hundreds of protesters clashed with Lebanese security forces in demonstrations near the US embassy in support of the people of Gaza and the militant group. Hamas in its war with Israel.

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Chehayeb reported from Beirut. Associated Press writer Abby Sewell in Beirut contributed to this report.

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